Peat moss- good or bad?

novascapesFebruary 21, 2012

There has been a discussion recently about the use of Mycelium added to the root system of plants. This inspired me to to do a lot more research on the soil micro system and what is taking place below the surface. I have a calcareous clay soil and have read that adding peat moss would help break up the clay and help with the pH. Well I have done this, maybe over done it. I have access to more peat moss than I could ever use in my life for the 3 acre lawn and gardens at home, so I even spread it on my pastures at the farm.

I have just read something that has alarmed me, see link below. Peat moss is anti microbial.

Here is a link that might be useful: Peat Moss Con

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tn_gardening

I wonder if you couldn't kick start it by squirting the area with compost tea?

    Bookmark   February 21, 2012 at 7:17AM
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gonebananas_gw

Peat moss (actually moss peat) has H+ ions on exchange sites and releases acidity that inhibits some microbes. It in no way can overcome soil microflora unless it is a dominant component and in a calcareous clay with strong buffering capacity almost could never do so. It probably never could do so by a simple top dressing either almost no matter what the soil type. Sailors of old used to like taking on water from humic streams feed by peatlands (e.g., New River from the Everglades) because it was said to store longer without bacterial growth and odors in the wood barrels of the time.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2012 at 10:31AM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

Peat moss lasts in your soil for years, because the Soil Food Web won't digest it. Peat moss is also a non renewable resource, no matter what the sellers of the stuff tell you. They have access to about 1 percent of the reserves, the rest is not accessable for harvesting today. It takes more then your lifetime, which makes it nonrenewable, to replace a small portion that is harvested. In Ireland wheree peat bogs are harvested for elecrical generation the bogs are only allowed to be harvested part way at which time they must be flooded again and it will take several thousands of years, according to those that work the bogs, before they will be able to harvest that area again.
Where there are available other forms of organic matter they should be used in place of peat moss because those other forms of OM are better for your soil and are more sustainable. There are, however, places where peat moss might be the only form of organic matter that can be gotten and those places may well need to use peat moss. But of other, sustainable, forms or OM are available spending money on peat moss is not necessary.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2012 at 11:46AM
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fortyonenorth(6b)

Higher pH favors bacteria; lower pH favors fungi. In terms of adding peat moss to a calcerous soil, I don't think it will have any negative bearing on microbial life. On the other hand, the increase in SOM will provide a great benefit.

In going out of his way to point out the anti-organic bias of the researchers, Mr. Garrett highlights his own bias.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2012 at 12:14PM
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novascapes

I did find a study that was testing Mycelium in potting soil made up of at least 50% peat moss. There was no mention of harm being done.
gonebananas, I agree that given the ration of peat to clay it would have very little effect overall.
kimmsr, Before I started taking the peat moss it was going to the land fill. It is last years potting soil for a greenhouse vegetable farm and flowering plants. It is mixed with perlite, sand, bark, chips, and of course dead plants. tomorrow morning I will be backing a dump truck up to their loading dock and I not finished picking up the compost heap from last year.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2012 at 2:55AM
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bi11me(5b)

I like novascapes' approach. I wouldn't purchase peat, but I would gladly recycle it. It is, to my thinking, a non-renewable resource, and as such should not be used when better alternatives exist - coir, for some, but shredded leaves for me. I suspect that the anti-microbial effects are only manifestyed in very high percentages, and unlikely t present an issue in well-balanced soil mixes.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2012 at 9:15AM
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tropical_thought(San Francisco)

When I used bags of peat moss I bought at orchard many years ago, I don't think it was old growth peat moss. I found it to be discouraging. I would use it as a mulch for shady areas, but I found that it would breakdown or disappear or maybe it blew away very quickly. Since it seems to go away so fast, it seemed like a waste of money. This was in the 90s by the way, then they raised up the price of the big bag, so I never bought it again. How can it last a long time, if it goes away so fast? There are people who hate wood mulches and therefore only use peat moss products, but I like wood products. I don't think it hangs around as long as wood. It does not help your compost bin heat up. I would only use it now in a sterile mix for seed starting indoors in cells, if I was doing that, but I am not doing that. I would rather put my money in wood based mulches.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2012 at 9:15AM
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gardenlen(s/e qld aust)

must be bad.

we don't use it and never have, only what they sneak into potting mixes, it is not an eco' friendly product putting at risk wet land habitats.

see our garden presentations:

len

Here is a link that might be useful: lens straw bale garden

    Bookmark   February 22, 2012 at 3:24PM
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toxcrusadr

I read to the bottom of that link, and he bases the conclusion that it is 'anti-microbial' solely on the basis that items buried for hundreds of years did not decompose. It just sounds like a bit of a stretch. For one thing, the cold temperatures where peat bogs usually occur (Canada and Scotland, for example), and the lack of oxygen at the bottom of a bog, have to be factors.

This guy demands tests be repeated to show peat moss actually works on this grass disease, but quotes no actual testing that backs up his claim that it's generally 'anti-microbial.' You can't have it both ways.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2012 at 5:11PM
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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

Peat moss buried in water is not like peat moss mixed into soil with the attendant oxygen, CO2, minerals, bacteria, fungus, sunshine, clay, and whatever. Just this afternoon I pulled up a deadish cauliflower stalk with the roots [where some peat moss is] and I saw at least 3 earthworms at the top.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2012 at 6:22PM
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jolj(7b/8a)

I still do not see why we should not use peat moss.
It is just laying there, waiting to be used.
1% is a small amount.
At the rate the world is having babies, we will be building houses where the blogs are, as soon as the peat is gone in a thousand years.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2012 at 7:48PM
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bi11me(5b)

That's the same kind of thinking that helps perpetuate the slaughter of whales. It disregards the effects on larger ecosystems, only some of which we are beginning to understand. Research shows that peat bogs play a significant role in maintaining the balance of atmospheric methane and carbon. At the rate we are consuming it, when the peat is gone, we may be as well.

Here is a link that might be useful: Peat, carbon, and greenhouse gases

    Bookmark   February 22, 2012 at 8:17PM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

Many times people will simply ignore research that does not already support their mindset, or maybe they cannot find it. I do know that many times I have told my search engine that the information provided was not what I asked for. How you couch your question often determines what you get, but sometimes the search engine does not really search, either.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2012 at 7:32AM
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Lloyd

"Many times people will simply ignore research that does not already support their mindset..."

True, and sometimes people will ignore some research when they discover said research is flawed.

Lloyd

    Bookmark   February 23, 2012 at 9:13AM
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the_virginian(Zone 7 NoVA)

Peat moss is NOT a good soil amendment for clay PERIOD since it will actually make the clay less able to drain and will create a bathtube effect when planting trees and shrubs. If it drys out, peat creates dry pockets in clay that can take years to breakdown and resolve themselves. In well drained sandy soil peat moss is at its best since it really helps hold water, allowing plants to make use of the water before it drains away as in coastal regions or in Florida. HOWEVER, the enironmental issues aside, there are much better, sustainable soil amendment resources that can actually produce much better results. My personal favorite in the red clay we have in Virginia is leaf compost or even chopped leaves. The best part is it is free, you neighbors will bag it up for you to use in either your compost, or shredded as mulch or direct incorporation into the soil. Oak leaves are good for a slightly acid content and they break down into a healthy looking organic component of the soil, much like what happens in the forest. If I am planting or are preparing/revitalizing a new bed, I add compost (with a heavy leaf component), used coffee grounds and leaf mould or shredded leaves with some Milorganite sprinkled in for nitrogen and trace elements. People who come to see my gardens can't get over the results in my suburban "strip mined of native top soil" lot and ask me how I can get the results I do. In established beds or around trees I will put down a layer of leaf mould/shredded leaves, hardwood mulch and then a layer of pine straw. I tend to do this every year or everyother year depending on how the area looks. Bottom line, if you have some peat, you could mix it with compost, vermiculite and sharp sand to make potting soil or use it in you compost pile mixed in to break down and age into something even better. After that I would not even consider buying anymore.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2012 at 11:12AM
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toxcrusadr

I agree with you Virginian. I will always reach for compost first as a source of organic matter and don't really see the need to buy peat for my gardens.

My dad used bales of peat to plant trees and shrubs at every house we ever lived in when I was growing up. Probably because his dad did. They lived in Michigan close to peat supplies. Although they composted, it was not on the scale that we do (me and the rest of y'all). There was little concern for the 'footprint' of purchased product, decades ago. There was very little municipal composting so few sources of organic matter. I see how it happened but I now find that I don't need it bad enough to warrant the expense, both in $ and footprint. Others' mileage may vary but that's my opinion.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2012 at 1:09PM
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tropical_thought(San Francisco)

If peat moss is bad for clay, what about this stuff they sell called Claybuster? It is mostly peat moss. It seems like nothing is good for clay, but I don't have clay. I don't think they make Claybuster anymore. I looked it up on the web. I think it costed too much since it was peat moss. The price of peat moss is really high right now, and you can buy a lot more wood mulch for that much money. Since I do soil my soil large scale cost is a consideration.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2012 at 3:05PM
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jolj(7b/8a)

I have only used peat for potted plants.
At the rate of child birth, more houses,cars & mini mall will kill the earth long before all the peat is gone.
I understand that you are trying to help save the planet.
I just think sometimes we stare at a single tree & miss the forest.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2012 at 9:40PM
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tropical_thought(San Francisco)

I have been using something on my frog called Loose Coconut Fiber Substrate. It looks just like peat moss, but you can't buy it in bulk, but if you could I wonder if it could replace peat moss? I always compost it also.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2012 at 8:42AM
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the_virginian(Zone 7 NoVA)

No, claybuster is pinefines, sharp sand and gypsum as I have used it from time to time. I don't now since I use the method I described earlier. Peat and clay don't mix well in the garden and my advice is use other better and in many cases cheaper alternatives.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2012 at 10:37AM
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TheMasterGardener1(5B)

"If peat moss is bad for clay, what about this stuff they sell called Claybuster?"

Something to think about.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2012 at 10:51AM
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the_virginian(Zone 7 NoVA)

Claybuster, at least the one sold by that name here in Virginia, has no peat moss in it, only pine fines, compost, sharp sand and gypsum.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2012 at 11:39AM
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tropical_thought(San Francisco)

I guess I was wrong, it looked like it was peat moss when I bought it years ago, and now I can't find it anymore. It did have gypsum. I would have goggled the bag contents if I could have found them. I only got one of two bags for fun since I don't have clay in the 90s. I don't know maybe they changed the formula? Or maybe I am wrong, but I recalling read peat moss in there instead of a wood based product. It said on the bag softens clay soil and they used to have it at Half Moon Bay nursery, but they don't have it anymore.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2012 at 11:49AM
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toxcrusadr

Regardless of the bit about it being a renewable resource and that there's a huge reserve, in my situation there are no peat bogs for hundreds of miles in any direction from mid-Missouri. The transport cost and env. impact of hauling it around is a big factor for me. I'd rather use the abundant local resources to improve my soil.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2012 at 12:01PM
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bi11me(5b)

Coconut fiber is a good substitute, available in bulk. FEDCO also carries it.

Here is a link that might be useful: bulk coir

    Bookmark   February 24, 2012 at 12:40PM
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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

the virgigian said, ". Peat and clay don't mix well in the garden"

I found that my peat moss mixed and integated very well in my clay loam soil. I also used some sand at the same time which makes a perfect counterbalance in my experience. Local sphagnum peat moss with black fines comes from a bog 6 miles away from me. There also was another local bog that was cored sampled 66 feet deep by Purdue university

    Bookmark   February 24, 2012 at 1:23PM
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Lloyd

I really don't know much about coir, so I spent a few minutes reading a very few (2) articles. It might not be as eco-friendly as thought. I have no idea how current this information is.

"The retting process used in coir fiber production generates significant water pollution. Among the major organic pollutants are pectin, pectosan, fat, tannin, toxic polyphenols, and several types of bacteria including salmonella. Scientists are experimenting with treatment options, and at least one coir manufacturing company claims to be treating its effluent water."

Lloyd

Here is a link that might be useful: Coir

    Bookmark   February 24, 2012 at 3:53PM
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toxcrusadr

Re: use of peat with clay, I meant to say that too, wayne. I didn't have problems with it when I used it in the past in clay soils, any more than compost or other organic matter. The part of virginian's post I agreed with was not necessarily that part. :-]

    Bookmark   February 24, 2012 at 4:00PM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

I have seen gardens where the addition of peat moss to the clay did nothing, but the gardener bought 1 3.8 cubic foot bungle to spread over a 20 x 50 garden plot. Since it takes in the neighborhood of 5 to 8 percent organic matter to make a significant difference most anyone should be able to see that significantly more of that peat would be needed. At about $10.00 per 3.0 cubic foot bundle putting sufficient amounts of this non renewable resource into you garden can be cost prohibitive.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2012 at 7:08AM
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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

I agree, kimm, that one bag spread out over 1,000 sq. ft. might not make a lot of difference, and I agree that at the price you said, it might not be advantageous for large spreads. For small beds, it might make a huge difference.

Kimm, you have never seen my gardens nor ran your hands through the soil mix I have. I bought the first peat moss for $11.50 a cubic yard. The price has gone up since, but it is well hydrated, local, and would not be used otherwise. This price I have gotten mine is about 5 times cheaper than the Canadian bagged peat moss.The farmer has profited also. The harvest of an isolated bog is not likely to change world ecology either.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2012 at 12:20PM
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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

PS, The carbon sink has moved from over there to here for many years anyway.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2012 at 12:24PM
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TheMasterGardener1(5B)

"I have seen gardens where the addition of peat moss to the clay did nothing, but the gardener bought 1 3.8 cubic foot bungle to spread over a 20 x 50 garden plot."

I am going to have to agree now with Kimm at this point. Last year I did Jalapenos, the plants in the amended with peat and lime did just as well as the plants in the native clay soil. Now, my soil is "ok" you could say but is heavy clay. I have to say I may have even got more peppers in the native soil.

This year I am growing rows of Jalapenos and I amended 36" of one of the rows with peat/bark/lime and the rest just a till considering they are new. I will take pics and we will see which plants grow faster and bigger. I have to note I added a little lime in all of my rows, I know Jalapenos like high ph and that extra Ca/Mg from the lime, but I may be even wasting my lime lol?

Again, maybe I have a perfect soil but it is very clay heavy.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2012 at 9:22PM
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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

I have raised many, many really nice crops on the gardens without amending it with sand and peat moss...really nice.
The main reason for me was to have a looser soil that could be worked up earlier and that plants like a dream...working it or not working it up. Potatoes, carrots, beets, watermelons,peppers, and cauliflower especially like it...me too.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2012 at 9:52PM
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TheMasterGardener1(5B)

Is there any way you can over lime?

    Bookmark   February 26, 2012 at 12:10AM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

Absolutely, which is why you do need to have a good soil test done before applying any lime or wood ash. Which type of lime do you need? Calcitic or Dolomitic? How much?
Laying down some lime does no good and is a waste of your time, energy, and money. Laying down too much creates more problems then it solves also wasting your time, energy, and money. Putting down Calcitic lime when you need Dolomitic Lime is a waste of your time, energy, and money as well as is applying Dolomitic Lime when you need Calcitic Lime.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2012 at 7:07AM
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joepyeweed(5b IL)

The addition of any organic matter will help out a clay soil. Organic matter comes from many sources. Peat Moss is certainly one type of organic matter.

I think there are plenty of locally available organic materials (leaves, compost) that are great soil amendments such that its not necessary (and not sustainable) to buy stuff that comes from far away and is mined out of ancient wetlands.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2012 at 10:36AM
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tropical_thought(San Francisco)

Coconut Coir has salt in it? I just read the links. I had no idea it can be used for gardening. But, even so I don't know where I would find it for retail sale. So, they wash it and it pollutes water? What is up with that? I would still stay with wood products, but I just like to learn more things about OM. I thought some peat moss can be raised like a crop from Canada, I think they farm it. I don't think all the peat moss from home OSH is from an ancient Scottish peat bog. If was that special and rare how could be even be sold unless it was like 100 dollars a pound.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2012 at 11:35AM
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kqcrna(z6 SW Oh)

I've never bought peat for the purpose of adding it to my soil. However, I do recycle my used potting mix, which is mostly peat, into garden beds with good results. It really softens my clay soil and improves tilth in that area.

Last year my husband wanted peat for topping grass seed. He needed a couple of cups worth. He bought a huge bale of it! (Men!) I'll probably mix some into my compost when I use it in spring as a way to stretch the compost. And maybe I'll mix a little of it into the new batch of compost I start then.

Karen

    Bookmark   February 26, 2012 at 12:20PM
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tropical_thought(San Francisco)

Mixing it is good, because it sheds water if you don't mix it. Water rolls right off it, if you use it as a mulch. That is why they sometimes add a wetting agent, what ever that is, to peat moss.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2012 at 12:24PM
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TheMasterGardener1(5B)

Thanks for the explanation Kimm. I only limed a few feet of rows I hear Jalapeno plants like ph of 9!?!?!?

Is that true? Sounds strange but I keep seeing many sources that say it is true.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2012 at 4:57PM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

tropical, you migth get the idea from some of those that are in the business of selling Canadian Peat Moss that they "farm" it, but all they do is harvest the stuff from the very extensive peat bogs in the northern reaches of Canada. Peat is made, naturally, in a bog, a swamp, as vegetative waste is very slowly digested by anaerbic bacteria under water. It takes longer then you will be on earth for them to make an inch or so of peat.
To harvest this material they must drain the bog, which disrupts the native habitat of many animal species, and then allow it to dry, which takes years. The energy (nonrenewable) used to harvest peat, when they can, and process it so they can sell it to you is the major cost of peat moss. Canada, and the provinces, do get a small amount of money or allowing this rape of the land to occur.
Master, I have also seen references to needed a soil pH of 9.0 to grow Jalapenos, but I have seen very few plants that will grow in a soil that alkaline. I do know that hot peppers do produce the fruits you want in soils that are poorer than most other veggies like best. I think I would find someone I trusted that grew them and ask about that rahter than rely on unknown sources.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2012 at 7:37AM
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Lloyd

"harvest the stuff from the very extensive peat bogs in the northern reaches of Canada."

Really? Northern reaches of Canada eh?

I have peat bogs just a few miles from my house.

Lloyd

P.S. I don't use peat myself.

Here is a link that might be useful: Commodity Summaries Sphagnum Peat Moss

    Bookmark   February 27, 2012 at 9:47AM
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the_virginian(Zone 7 NoVA)

Peat that is sold dry unless you super saturate the bag prior to amending is going to give you dry pockets and when it dries out is hard to hydrate again especially when added to clay. The red clay here in my part of Virginia does not mix well with peat so I don't recommend it with this soil type. Compost is so much better and leaf mould is too not to mention it is renewable unlike peat in a person's lifetime.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2012 at 9:52AM
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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

Lloyd, Do you ever feel like you are beating your head against the wall concerning certain dogmas? lol

    Bookmark   February 27, 2012 at 10:54AM
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Lloyd

:-)

I'm not trying to change his mind, I'm trying to warn people that any information given on public forum ought to be questioned if it seems a bit far fetched. Not everything is as it seems, there are grey areas in darn near any discussion and I tend to be skeptical of people who proclaim a lot of absolutes.

Lloyd

    Bookmark   February 27, 2012 at 11:04AM
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tropical_thought(San Francisco)

They could farm and replant. Are you sure they have to drain to harvest? Even it took 100 years, they are still replanting, like a Christmas tree farm. It takes a long time to grow a tree, but if you keep replanting each year you can take some. This what I read that the ones from Canada they farm and it's renewable, but I could be wrong. I don't like cut Christmas trees either.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2012 at 11:51AM
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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

I think some draining is likely necessary to get in there and harvest the crop. As far as lessening a carbon sink stacks up, the sink is being moved south in the marketed moss...not burned in stoves! Probably the biggest negative is the transport distance. Still, most commodities travel a good ways.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2012 at 4:54PM
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Lloyd

Maybe some perspective will help....

Just zoom out one click at a time until you can see the entire Province of Manitoba. Keep your eye on the peat farm.

Start here.

Lloyd

    Bookmark   February 27, 2012 at 8:45PM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

These are peat bogs, swamps. I have not visited the peat bogs in Canada but have been to those in Ireland where peat is harvested to generate electricity. To begin harvesting those peat bogs they start by digging deep trenches to 1) drain off the water and 2) to put in place some kind of barrier to keep the water out. Pumps are installed to move that water along, using a good amount of electricity in the process. That alone destroys habitat.
The peat moss you get is quite dry. Harvesting wet peat would require the use of more energy, to harvest and dry that peat, then allowing it to dry in situ and then harvesting it. The harvesting, processing, packaging, and shipping the peat to you all require vast amounts of non renewable energy.
Once as much peat as allowed is harvested (some must be left to regenerate the bog) the pumps are turned off and that field is allowed to reflood so the peat can be regenerated. The vegetation that will, eventually, become the peat moss starts to grow, die, and anerobically get changed into the peat over a long period of time.
If one only believes the information provided by those with a vested interest in selling you something your knowledge will be skewed to that position. But if you look at all of the information avalable, and especially that provided by people with no financial interest in the product, you might get a different perspective.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 7:03AM
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toxcrusadr

The energy input is absolutely a factor for me as I think it would be for many in the US given their distance from the sources. Even if they are just across the Canadian border as Lloyd illustrated.

Locally produced organic matter is so much better. I just think people have been buying peat by the bale for so many generations that it's become ingrained in gardening culture. There were not as many local municipal and private composting operations in generations past.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 10:34AM
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piedmontnc(7b-8)

The red clay here in my part of Virginia does not mix well with peat so I don't recommend it with this soil type.

Strange, it mixes fine with similar red clay ultisols here in NC.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 1:01PM
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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

Kimm say, "But if you look at all of the information avalable, and especially that provided by people with no financial interest in the product, you might get a different perspective."

kimm, I don't buy that for 2 moments. Why? Because about the only people with no financial interest in the product who provide information do seem to have an eco bias already and that makes a difference.

Where is the truly unbiased (financial and eco wise] information?....you are not providing it for sure.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 4:33PM
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jolj(7b/8a)

wayne 5, were you born smart or is it something you got over time?
You seem to have a handle on many of the post on Gardenweb.
Including mine.
Thanks for your input.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 6:02PM
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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

jolj,

Well, I'm not smart. I do hope to have picked up a bit of wisdom in my older age.

I was thinking about what I had last posted on here while I was getting the remains of a stump out. I may have been a bit sharp with kimm...he is a real bulldog for what he believes. What I want to say here is: When it comes to financisl affairs, especially, the positives get told, but the negatives are not told. The same is likely true on peat moss sites. There are not many articles titled: Watching Paint Dry. So articles on peat likewise probably would not appeal to writers unless they had a bit of an agenda.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 6:33PM
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bi11me(5b)

The important thing with any advice is to know the source, otherwise you can't judge the validity. There are lots of agendas here, when they're clear at the outset, it's easier to adjust to the bias accordingly. I'm prone to arguing my beliefs, but I make an effort not to be overly contentious with those of a different opinion. Sometimes I get it right, often I bite my virtual "tongue," and on occasion I fail in my restraint, but I am grateful for the disagreement if for no other reason than it helps me to clarify my own argument. It's incredible what you can find on the internet, finding what will legitimately support an argument (what's truly credible) is a little harder. There are some participants here with whom it is a pleasure to disagree, because they are able to have a civil debate.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 7:59PM
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Lloyd

Of course I had to google Watching Paint Dry...came up with "About 2,860,000 results (0.14 seconds)"...I'm not going to read them all!!

;-)

Lloyd

    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 8:14PM
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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

Lloyd, There are a lot of Watching Paint Dry sites...it's a real art I guess.....surprised me.

I'll try again....The Pure Joy of Ditch Digging At The South Pole

    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 8:28PM
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Lloyd

Got me on that one. :-)

Lloyd

P.S. See, we can occasionally be nice to each other.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 8:50PM
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the_virginian(Zone 7 NoVA)

Again, in my experience and many others whom I share gardening tips with in my area do not use or recommend peat moss as a soil amendment for red clay. The negatives outweigh the positives. I have no environmental, financial or personal agenda concerning peat moss. Except in sandy soils it is not a good choice and there are far superior alternatives that yield better results.

    Bookmark   February 29, 2012 at 1:30PM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

I have no vested interest in anything except to leave this world in as good or maybe better condition then it was when I came here. If there is no good reason to destroy something then I will oppose doing that. We are not here to use up, mine, the resources available but instead we are here to try to make this a better place for our grandchildren to live.
If that means for some that I am an ignorant rube, they are privileged to think that.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2012 at 6:56AM
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tropical_thought(San Francisco)

As a sandy soil gardener, (my house is built what was once a sand dune), I can say with confidence that a woody based compost is better for sandy soil then peat moss. As far as I can see peat moss is only useful to store bulbs or a potting mix for things like African violets, but I don't grow them. I am storing bulbs without peat moss and so far no problems. But, these thing would be small scale, not like a gardener using a huge amount of peat moss for the whole garden. Times evolve and people can stop using peat moss.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2012 at 10:40AM
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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

I can see where some might get to thinking that we live in a small world....and I am fairly conservative.

Still, just about all the people I know use of the earth's resources....like driving vehicules, using electricity, water, plastics, steel, the internet, eating foods, and many other activities that use materials that are mined, processed, shipped, and sold.

I believe in using these things wisely. I don't see going to extremes though. In the parable that Jesus told about the talents. The persons who multiplied their stewardship wisely were praised, but the one who hid away his was condemned.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2012 at 12:32PM
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the_virginian(Zone 7 NoVA)

Tropical thought: I concur that wood or leaf based OM is better than peat moss for sandy soils. For one thing, the experience I have had in Florida showed that the live oak based leaf mould mixed in more evenly and even made a good mulch to put around the plantings. I am sure composted saw dust or wood shavings would have had similar results. The reason I am bias towards leaves is they are so readily available and are the major component of what happens naturally in the soil in the woods. Wood too breaks down well in a mulch or composted soil amendment product that is also similar to what happens in the forest.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2012 at 2:02PM
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bi11me(5b)

I side with the virginian here, in that a local product that offers similar advantages is preferable to anything that requires long-distance transportation. Peats' primary advantage is as a soil conditioner, the fact that it breaks down so slowly means it can be an effective long-term treatment, but it adds little else. Shredded leaves will have the same effect in the short term of lightening the soil, but they will continue to break down releasing nutrients into the soil and requiring replenishing on a regular basis. I think the addition of nutrients is worth the added labor of regular applications, and the accessibility is unparalleled - people will do most of the labor for you, and give you the bags.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2012 at 2:20PM
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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

I have spoken up for peat moss on this thread.

billme has said it so clearly. Peat moss is a long lasting soil conditioner. Most gardeners here just do not have the access to it cheaply like I do and so I would not recommend it except for small areas. Peat moss does not feed the soil much and I do not expect that of it. I do believe in adding very goodly amounts of leaf compost, mulched leaves, and other things like composts, perhaps some good well rotted manure, AND folks, listen up...I bought 40 pounds of Plant Tone fertilizer today...love it or weep...it is my garden.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2012 at 5:53PM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

People around here, and in many other places throughout the world, throw away more pounds of a very valuable resource, those tree leaves that fall, that are better for your soil and are renewable, you get them every year, than buy peat moss. People could save a lot of money by not buying peat moss and recycling those tree leaves. For people that live where there are deciduous trees there probably is not good reason to buy peat moss.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2012 at 7:32AM
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Lloyd

I think I can confidently say no one here disagrees with any of that. The problem is, is that in reality, it doesn't work that way.

I spend countless hours trying to get people to use compost on their lawns instead of synthetics. I give some compost away to people/gardening groups to use in their gardens/floral displays. I bring people out to show them how to convert leaves/grass/garden plants into compost. Yet every year I get another 400-500 tonnes of yard trimmings from a small town.

Not everyone is going to compost or even use compost and I know beating them over the head with guilt over peat (especially if some of the information is bogus) is not going to win them over. What does work is demonstration. Getting a neighbour to try it with great results.

One step at a time.

Lloyd

    Bookmark   March 2, 2012 at 12:37PM
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tropical_thought(San Francisco)

I totally agree when they try to say everything bad about something and some of it not true, the whole argument gets ignored.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2012 at 12:56PM
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gargwarb

I have no vested interest in anything except to leave this world in as good or maybe better condition then it was when I came here. If there is no good reason to destroy something then I will oppose doing that. We are not here to use up, mine, the resources available but instead we are here to try to make this a better place for our grandchildren to live.
If that means for some that I am an ignorant rube, they are privileged to think that.

Wow Kimm, I've never seen you just lay it out like that. I find your motives admirable and I respect your conviction.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2012 at 1:01PM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

I find it quite amusing that on a discussion forum, where people should feel free to present opposing opinions, that some will resort to calling those they disagree with "ignorant" or that they use bad information, apparently because the arguments they use are unsustainable.
Sometimes it appears from some of the replies that some of use that try to be "devils advocates" cause some to become apopolectic.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2012 at 7:06AM
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tropical_thought(San Francisco)

If someone is lazy, they may just read a piece of information and stick in their mind and believe it for years, without searching for counter views. I find it best to consider the opposing views and if you can dismiss those, then your belief is more likely to be correct.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2012 at 10:51AM
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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

I find that environmental issues can become a bit like religion. Goodness, we tend to promote only what promotes our viewpoint, AND ignore anything negative to that viewpoint.

Like I tried to point out somewhere above.....An advertisement will only highlight the reasons why you "should" buy the product. Never will they detail the contrary things. Usually on many environmental issues, only the negatives are listed and NEVER the positives...and there are many oftentimes.

So where does it leave us? I think that if we are more honest, we have to be able to deal with the downsides. I know that isn't how things are usually done. Politics is about the perfect illustration of presenting only what will appeal to the biases and preconceived buttons of shallow thinking human beings.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2012 at 2:20PM
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bi11me(5b)

Guilty, but unrepentant.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2012 at 2:44PM
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Lloyd

I find that some environmental issues can become a bit like religion a cult.

I'm a firm believer in the possibility of grey areas.

:-)

Lloyd

    Bookmark   March 6, 2012 at 3:09PM
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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

On this site the health of the soil, and to some extent, the health of the planet are legit issues.

A good parallel is the health of our bodies. Many of the same laws and principles apply. Do I trust Big Pharma and the system of health care? Well, the system does help some and does tend to keep people limping along for a while. Yet when it comes to vibrant health building from the INSIDE out rather than treating symptoms, very much is lacking....they just are not much geared to that and besides wellness does not pay so well as medical interventions.

When it comes to my personal health, I want to fortify it rather than treat it later. I think that good gardeners want to do the same and are better able to do that as they learn.

Yes, LLoyd, there are many gray shades and colours [for you Lloyd]

    Bookmark   March 6, 2012 at 3:59PM
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bi11me(5b)

The grey matter is often the most interesting part...

    Bookmark   March 6, 2012 at 5:10PM
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Jon_dear(4/5)

My thought is this- using local products is the best solution. Some can get coir. For me in Maine, that means shipping it at least 1500 miles. Is that better than harvesting some peat within one or two hundred miles from my home? Rice hulls would be another options. We don't grow much rice here in Maine. Now leaves are here, easy to access. Old tree bark from local saw mills is easy to get by the pickup full. It will all regenerate eventually- some fast, some slow. I'm not really against using it. I do use a few 3.8 cu ft bales a year in my homemade seed starting mix. I also use perlite... but I hardly ever see anybody saying that it isn't a renewable product. I guess what I'm thinking is that it has it's uses, but I'm too cheap to purchase enough to make that much of a difference in my whole garden.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 5:27PM
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Kevinitis(5)

Aside from the environmental concerns, I would say that there are situations where pete moss might be good. For example my western soils are loamy fine sand that has a natural ph of 7.8 to 7.9, and is somewhat excessivly well drained to excessivly well drained. And has low water holding capacity. So adding pete for my garden would increase water capacity and the acidity of the pete serves to lower the ph albeit slightly. I have two garden plots, one a raised bed the other a row crop system. I added pete and compost from the green waste facility to my raised bed and had really great results, ie more plant vigor. Whereas in my row crop area, I only added the compost. My plants in the row crop, although health, were not as productive or vigourus as my raised bed. For me it was mostly financial as to why I did not add pete to my row crop area. But there is good reason why one might add pete in certain situations.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 11:52PM
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emme-dc(7b DC)

I am starting a garden not quite from scratch, but from pretty poor condition. My worst disadvantage, though, I don't know the first thing about how to make good garden soil. Well, I do know that my soil is clay-heavy, not sandy. Not well drained. I also know it's pretty alkaline. I got some holly-tone. I have half a bag of peat out back, should I mix it in with some of the top soil and bumper crop I just bought when I go to fill the beds? To listen to all you anti-peat folks, I'm thinking no, just save it for potting. For sure I'm not going to buy another bag, so I'd better hang on to it for when I do need it. Or should I just put it out there and make room for a bag of potting mix?

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 12:44AM
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gonebananas_gw

The biggest threat, hands down, to the vast northern peatlands is climate warming.

But many would prefer to ignore that and instead quibble about the smaller matters of harvesting or mining where posturing is easier. Some of course do have knowledgeable opposition to aspects or areas of peat mining (peat for fuel was the bigger threat, and may again be).

I use mainly ground pine bark in the large amount of potting soil I make, and it is a totally renewable and otherwise waste product of forestry. I do use a bit of Sphagnum peat (up to 1/3 for especially valuable plants) in order to have better rooting media filling the intersticies between the bark particles. I would never use mined peat as a general garden amendment, but then again I have other ready options (ground bark, leaves, and leaf compost, zoo manure compost) and I do not criticise those who do not have these easy options.

I use some vermiculite and perlite too. I know the raw materials are mined (much vermiculite near me) but they are very plentiful or common and the materials persist in my soil and need no replenishment. Far more of raw mineral materials flow past me in the river because this state has pitiful erosion control regulations or enforcement. Any thought-out attack of loss of soil or mineral resources would start there, not with the relatively trivial extractions of vermiculite or rock for perlite production (where only anout 1/7th goes to horticulture anyway).

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 9:44AM
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rdak(z5MI)

Peat moss is ok and it will definitely break down over time.

But regular stuff like leaves, twigs/chips, grass clipping, etc., are better IMHO.

Where I live, there are so many fallen leaves in the autumn that I am able to mulch massive amounts into the yard and pile them up in the raised beds, etc.

Over the years these ordinary amendments have worked wonders in my clay soil.

But peat moss will certainly add organic matter to your soil.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 11:12AM
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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

I have access to both and love them both...so it isn't an either or for me.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 12:43PM
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curt_grow

I use good old Minnesota leaves for my compost. The only tropical trash my pile see's is from fruit scraps. I will not pay anyone for inporting their trash. However I do use a small amount of moss in my container mix. I think my northern nieghbors know what they are doing

Curt

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 1:25PM
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toxcrusadr

emme-dc, I'd just use that peat and get some potting mix later if and when you need it. It doesn't do any good sitting around in a bag, that's for sure.

And think about starting a new thread about your soil. More people will see it. In here it's just us wackos arguing like aunts in the kitchen during a party. :-]

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 3:08PM
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Lloyd

Anybody interested?

Lloyd

Here is a link that might be useful: Peat Moss Business For Sale

    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 7:52PM
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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

Lloyd, No wonder it is hard to move all that leaf compost. You have delicious peat moss to compete with.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 9:10PM
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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

Lloyd, I followed the "directions" link and it was pinned on Seven Oaks Hospital! I did see your airport to the west on the satellite view on that link.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2012 at 12:43PM
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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

Lloyd, if you put this address in the URL slot, you will get my peat moss bog source ...on satellite view....[ 40.28289 -85.494372 ] Use the satellite map from your sales site.
You can go to the highest 'zoom in' level and double left click on State Road 28 just to the south of the bog and school and you get a street level interactive view of my area.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2012 at 1:09PM
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Lloyd

The address linked to that ad is for a Realtor so it does not go to the actual business location. I don't know which company it is but this ad has appeared previously so I'm guessing there aren't a lot of interested people. The province is finally getting serious about not granting permits for new mining activity and I imagine no one wants to put out a lot of money for a mere 20 year supply.

Sometime before I moved back to the farm in '94, Dad got a couple of truckloads of peat from a neighbour in the bog who was building a barn. I don't think a lot of people understand local situations. There can be gray/grey areas.

Lloyd

P.S. I'll put my compost up against peat any day of the week. :-)

    Bookmark   March 10, 2012 at 2:17PM
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tropical_thought(San Francisco)

I could see the link, but it took me to downtown Winnipeg. The location must be somewhere else if it is a peat bog for sale.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2012 at 4:21PM
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the_virginian(Zone 7 NoVA)

I would use the peat for a potting mix and use something else in the garden like compost or leaf mould.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 3:57AM
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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

I would use the peat moss in the garden before using bio-solids.. I really love what it does in my soil.

Maybe we can keep the discussion going!

    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 1:34PM
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Oil_Robb(3)

People This shouldnt be an either/or situtation, from what im getting in this thread is people that are in the anti peat moss camp are making thier points as if peat moss is the only thing put into thier beds. I found tilling 20 large peat bales (new 60' x60' garden) along with 15 hay bales and a ton of shredded leaves (watered in)in the fall and let sit for 5 months untill april and then tilled in 4" of mature compost from the local mucipality turned my cemnt hard clay garden into a loose highly fertile garden in months instead of years.I will keep tilling horse maure leaves and grass clippings to feed my soil every fall,thats just smart, but what tilling in the peat moss did is let me have an almost instant garden as I didnt have to wait years by top dressing and waiting for mother nature to do her thing. Now if its for flower bed and you cant till thats another story top dress with compost and shredded leaves and lightly sratch it into the top 2" of soil. My point beeing this is not an either/or situation. the beauty of peat is it lasts for years and doesnt break down anywhere as fast as the nutrisional amendmants that we also add to our gardens.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2012 at 12:21PM
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